March for Science Speech by Mike Nelson, April 14, 2018

I say the Earth belongs to each generation during its course, fully and in its own right, and no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence.

Those are the words of Thomas Jefferson in 1789…

I am pleased to see such a big turn out again this year for the Denver March for Science  – it is very important that we are all here.

Mike Nelson, KMGH Channel 7 Meteorologist
Mike Nelson, KMGH Channel 7 Meteorologist

The past 12 months, the national scene has been a mix of deep concern and great anticipation for the future.  The toxic political environment has served to motivate many people to get out and march, register to vote, or even run for office.

We are seeing tremendous energy from the public and I am excited and optimistic that sweeping changes can come to this nation in November!

I am not going to mix too much political science with climate science this morning. I am here because your local meteorologist must tackle the topic of Global Warming.

For many Americans, the television weather-caster is as close to a scientist as they get, and you invite us into your living rooms!

We should not shrink back from talking about climate change at the risk of losing a viewer. It is our responsibility to provide the public with accurate information about Global Warming.

As I address you this morning, I am taking a short break from a Climate Change Roundtable going on right now – just a few blocks away at Metro State.

This Roundtable is being led by two local experts on Global Warming – Dr. Kevin Trenberth from NCAR and Prof. Scott Denning from Colorado State.  When I finish here, I am going back to deliver a presentation about Communicating Climate Change.

The audience for this roundtable includes students and faculty at Metro State AND many of the local TV weather-casters you watch every day on the various channels.

I wanted to get my broadcast brothers and sisters together so that we can all become more inspired and empowered to educate our viewers with the truth about Global Warming and Climate Change.

People often joke to us that “you can’t even predict tomorrow weather, let alone 100 years from now?”  I agree that weather forecasting is not always as accurate as desired, but in many ways climate is much easier to predict than weather.

First of all, it is very important to realize that a heat-wave, tornado outbreak, record flood or major blizzard is not climate – it is weather! 

Weather is one play in a football game, climate is the history of the NFL!

Even though an individual severe weather event cannot be blamed on Global Warming, a warmer climate adds energy to the system – “juicing up” the atmosphere and will cause  more frequent and extreme severe weather events in the future.

We can expect more intense rain events, such as the Front Range Flood in September 2013, but also more wildfires as the changing climate creates stress on our forests.

Our Colorado climate will become warmer over the next 100 years.  Denver will have temperatures more like Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The result will be less snowpack, lower reservoirs and more frequent droughts.  We know the population will increase and therefore the demand for water – we need to plan ahead!

We stand today on the edge of a new frontier, a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils.  It would be easier to shrink back from that new frontier, but the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination and decision.

Those are the words of John F. Kennedy, spoken almost 60 years ago, when he accepted the nomination for President of the United States.

The speech is known historically as the “New Frontiers” speech, his words still ring true today…

Our problems are man-made, therefore they can be solved by man. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings – another quote from JFK in 1960.

More than ever, we need our leaders to take action to develop new and cleaner ways to produce energy and keep our environment safe.  We should not “shrink back” from the New Frontier, but instead move boldly forward!

I am optimistic!  Whenever I speak to a group of children, I am reminded that many of the wonderful technologies we take for granted today, did not exist a generation ago. 

The smart phones we cannot live without have more power than a Super Computer from 30 years ago.  Who knows what amazing discoveries await us in the next few decades. Those young students – many who are here today – will be the scientists and engineers of the future.

Scientists need to be rock stars!  I grew up in the 1960s and the “Race to the Moon” – the Apollo Program, inspired me to want to study science – and weather. 

Today, climate scientists and researchers are unfairly criticized as having ulterior motives because their message to the public is inconvenient to hear. 

The science is real, the scientists are honest, sincere and concerned.  We need to heed their message and tell policy makers to either do the right thing or find another job.

I will close with just a few quotes…

The problems we face cannot be solved with the same level of thinking as when they were created. – Albert Einstein

When it is asked how much it will cost to protect the environment, one more question should be asked; how much will it cost our civilization if we do not? – Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day.

Today our concern must be with the future. For the world is changing. The old era is ending. The old ways will not do – John F. Kennedy.

Thank you very much!!